Wednesday, April 13, 2011

French Bread

My lovely friend Sohira shared this French Bread recipe with me a few weeks ago.  She did a guest posted a Ciabatta recipe month ago.

French Bread 
6 cups unbleached bread flour 
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
3 cups water, ice cold (40F)

1. Combine flour, salt, yeast, and water in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and mix for 2 minutes on low speed. Switch to dough hook and mix for 5 to 6 minutes on medium speed. The dough should be sticky on the bottom of the bowl but it should release from the sides of the bowl, If not, sprinkle in a small amount of flour until this occurs (or dribble in water if the dough seems too stiff and clears the bottom as well as the sides of the bowl). Lightly oil a large bowl and immediately transfer the dough with a spatula or bowl scraper dipped in water into the bowl. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

2. Immediately place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight.

3. The next day, check the dough to see if it has risen. It will probably be partially risen but not doubled in size (the amount of rise will depend on how cold the fridge is and how often the door was opened). Leave the bowl of dough out at room temp for 2 or 3 hours (or longer if necessary) to allow the dough to wake up, lose its chill, and continue fermenting.

4. When the dough has doubled from its original size, liberally sprinkle the counter with bread flour (about 1/2 cup). Gently transfer the dough to the floured counter dipping your hands in water to keep the dough from sticking to you. Try to degas the dough as little as possible as you transfer it. If the dough is very wet, sprinkle more flour over the top as well as under it. Dry your hands thoroughly and then dip them in flour. Roll the dough gently in the sprinkled flour to coat it thoroughly, simultaneously stretching it into an oblong about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. If it is too sticky to handle, continue sprinkling flour over it. Dip a metal pastry scraper into cool water to keep it from sticking to the dough, and cut the dough in half width-wise with the pastry scraper by pressing it down through the dough until it severs it, then dipping it again in the water and repeating this action until you have cut down the full length of the dough. Let the dough relax for 5 minutes.

5. Prepare the oven for hearth baking. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit with a pizza stone or sheet pan inside. Fill a spray bottle with water to mist the oven once the bread is inside.

6. Shape your dough. Place dough on the back of a sheet pan, but make sure you sprinkle flour and some corn meal on top to prevent sticking. 

7. Carefully slide dough onto the baking stone. Spray the oven walls with water and close the door. Repeat twice more at 30-second intervals. After the final spray, lower the oven setting to 475 degrees Fahrenheit and continue baking. 

8. The bread should begin to turn golden brown within 8 or 9 minutes. If the loaves are baking unevenly at this point, rotate them 180 degrees. Continue baking 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the bread is a rich golden brown.

9. Transfer the hot breads to a cooling rack. They should feel very light, almost airy, and will cool in about 20 minutes. 

Still with me?!

I know it looks long, and it does take awhile, but it isn't difficult.  The bread was really tasty. And this recipe makes 4 loaves, so I frozen the other 3 loaves unbaked.  They will be perfect to boost quick soap or salad dinner.

Do you make bread? 

1 comment:

SM said...

It looks like they turned out great, Leigh!! Certified bread baker :)
See you soon!